United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO AMEND THE JUDGMENT AND
DENYING MOTION TO STRIKE
E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Charles Rhines, moves the court to alter or amend its
judgment. Respondent, Darin Young, resists the motion.
Respondent also moves to strike certain exhibits from the
record. Rhines resists the motion. For the following reasons,
the court denies the motion to alter or amend the judgment
and denies the motion to strike.
procedural history of this case is set forth more fully in
the court's February 16, 2016 order granting summary
judgment in favor of respondent and denying Rhines's
federal habeas petition. See Docket 305. The
following facts are relevant to the pending motions:
is a capital inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in
Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was convicted of premeditated
first-degree murder for the death of Donnivan Schaeffer and
of third-degree burglary of a Dig'Em Donuts Shop in Rapid
City, South Dakota. A jury found that Rhines should be
subject to death by lethal injection, and a state circuit
court judge imposed the sentence. On February 16, 2016, this
court granted respondent's motion for summary judgment
and denied Rhines's federal petition for habeas corpus.
Docket 305. The court entered judgment in favor of respondent
on the same day. Docket 306.
Rhines's Rule 59(e) Motion
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) was adopted to clarify a
district court's power to correct its own mistakes within
the time period immediately following entry of judgment.
Norman v. Ark. Dep't of Educ., 79 F.3d 748, 750
(8th Cir. 1996) (citing White v. N.H. Dep't of Empl.
Sec., 455 U.S. 445, 450 (1982)). "Rule 59(e)
motions serve the limited function of correcting
‘manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly
discovered evidence.' " United States v. Metro.
St. Louis Sewer Dist., 440 F.3d 930, 933 (8th Cir.
2006). "Such motions cannot be used to introduce new
evidence, tender new legal theories, or raise arguments which
could have been offered or raised prior to entry of
judgment." Id. The habeas context is no
exception to the prohibition on using a Rule 59(e) motion to
raise new arguments that could have and should have been made
before the court entered judgment. Bannister v.
Armontrout, 4 F.3d 1434, 1440 (8th Cir. 1993). The Rule
"is not intended to routinely give litigants a second
bite at the apple, but to afford an opportunity for relief in
extraordinary circumstances." Dale & Selby Superette
& Deli v. United States Dep't of Agric., 838 F.Supp.
1346, 1348 (D. Minn. 1993); see also 11 Charles Alan
Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure,
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure § 2810.1 (3d ed.)
("However, reconsideration of a judgment after its entry
is an extraordinary remedy which should be used
sparingly"). "A district court has broad discretion
in determining whether to grant or deny a motion to alter or
amend [a] judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e)[.]" Metro.
St. Louis, 440 F.3d at 933.
Conflict of Interest
conflict of interest argument is based on his interpretations
of the Supreme Court's Martinez v. Ryan, 132
S.Ct. 1309 (2012) opinion. On June 5, 2015, Rhines moved to
hold his federal habeas proceeding in abeyance. He argued that
the stay was necessary so that he could investigate potential
ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims premised on
the Martinez decision. On August 5, 2015, the court
concluded that Martinez did not apply to him and
denied Rhines's motion for several reasons. Docket 272.
As one reason for denying Rhines's motion, the court
found that Rhines received independent counsel between his
initial-review collateral proceeding and his federal habeas
proceedings. Thus, there was no conflict of interest
that interfered with Rhines's federal habeas counsel.
October 21, 2015, and two days prior to the oral argument
hearing on respondent's summary judgment motion, Rhines
moved for reconsideration of the court's order denying
his request for a stay as well as for permission to amend his
federal habeas petition. According to Rhines, the court
"fail[ed] to consider the unusual factual scenario that
exists in Mr. Rhines' case. Mr. Rhines has not
simultaneously had the benefit of effective, independent
counsel for the entire time that his case has been pending in
either state or federal court." Docket 279 at 1. Rhines
argued that the court's interpretation of
Martinez and its analysis concerning the
independence of his counsel was wrong. The court concluded,
among other things, however, that Martinez did not
apply and that Rhines was not entitled to relief. Docket 304
and like Rhines's first motion for reconsideration,
Rhines contends that "this Court has failed to recognize
the impact of [Martinez] and Trevino v.
Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911 (2013)" because several
attorneys from the Federal Public Defenders' Office
(FPDO) represented Rhines during part of his second state
habeas proceeding and in his federal habeas proceeding.
Docket 323 at 2; Docket 340 at 1. Rhines contends that this
partial overlap creates an impermissible conflict of
petitioners such as Rhines have a statutory right to counsel,
and the court may upon motion appoint substitute counsel if
the "interests of justice" so require. Martel
v. Clair, 132 S.Ct. 1276, 1286-87 (2012). The FPDO was
appointed as co-counsel for Rhines in 2009. Docket 184.
Rhines never moved for the FPDO's
substitution. Thus, the issue of whether Rhines was
entitled to substitute counsel was not raised before this
court. While Rhines argued that the partial overlap between
the attorneys who represented him during part of his second
state habeas proceeding and the conclusion of his federal
habeas proceeding created an impermissible conflict of
interest, at no time did Rhines move for substitute federal
habeas counsel, and the court does not believe an
impermissible conflict of interest exists. Docket 272 at 12.
The court is satisfied that it did not base its decision on a
manifest error of law or fact. And the court has twice
analyzed and rejected Rhines's contention that
Martinez otherwise applies to him. Because Rule
59(e) is not intended to give litigants "a second bite
at the apple, " it, likewise, is not intended to give
them a third. See Dale & Selby Superette, 838
F.Supp. at 1348. Thus, Rhines's conflict of interest
Juror Bias and Impropriety
Actual and implied bias of jurors
contends that two jurors at his trial harbored
anti-homosexual biases against him. He argues that those
biases infected his sentencing process and caused the denial
of his constitutional rights to an impartial jury, to due
process, to be free from the arbitrary imposition of the
death penalty, and to equal protection of the law.
did not raise previously his juror bias claim in any state or
federal proceeding. According to Rhines, the reason that this
issue was not presented earlier is because none of
Rhines's previous attorneys interviewed the jurors from
his trial. Some of the former jurors were interviewed
recently, and Rhines has secured their signed affidavits.
Rhines argues that the affidavits are "newly discovered
evidence" under Rule 59(e) and asserts that the court
should amend its judgment accordingly in light of this new
argument fails, however, for several reasons. First, a motion
under Rule 59(e) cannot be used to "tender new legal
theories, or raise arguments which should have been offered
or raised prior to entry of judgment." Metro. St.
Louis, 440 F.3d at 933; see also Bannister, 4
F.3d at 1440 ("Bannister first raised the claim in the
district court in a Rule 59(e) motion. The district court
correctly found that the presentation of the claim in a 59(e)
motion was the functional equivalent of a second [habeas]
petition, and as such was subject to dismissal as
abusive"). Thus, Rhines's juror bias claim should
have been raised at the outset of his habeas proceeding.
See Docket 72 (directing Rhines "to include
every known constitutional error or deprivation entitling
[him] to relief"). Second, a principal purpose of Rule
59(e) is to afford courts the opportunity to correct their
mistakes in the period immediately following the entry of the
judgment. Norman, 79 F.3d at 750. But Rhines does
not explain how the court made a mistake regarding an issue
that was never before the court. Third, because Rhines did
not raise his juror bias claim during any of his state
proceedings, this court cannot consider it. Baldwin v.
Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (2004) ("Before seeking a
federal writ of habeas corpus, a state prisoner . . . must
‘fairly present' his claim in each appropriate
state court"); Rucker v. Norris, 563 F.3d 766,
769 (8th Cir. 2009) (agreeing with the district court that an
"issue is procedurally barred because it was not
‘fairly present[ed]' to the appropriate state
court") (alteration in original). And while Rhines
argues that each of his prior attorneys-including his
initial-review collateral proceeding attorney-failed to
develop his juror bias claim, Rhines cannot avail himself of
the rule from Martinez because Rhines's
defaulted claim is not a claim for ineffective assistance of
trial counsel. Martinez, 132 S.Ct. at 1320.
Rhines's newly discovered evidence argument, the court
finds that Rule 59(e) is applicable in this
context. The Eighth Circuit applies the same
standard for Rule 59(e) motions based on newly discovered
evidence as it does for Rule 60(b)(2) motions. Miller v.
Baker Implement Co., 439 F.3d 407, 414 (8th Cir. 2006).
"To prevail on this motion, [the movant is] required to
show- among other things-that the evidence proffered with the
motion was discovered after the court's order and that he
exercised diligence to obtain the evidence before entry of
the order." Anderson v. United States, 762 F.3d
787, 794 (8th Cir. 2014). The evidence must also be
admissible. Murdock v. United States, 160 F.2d 358,
362 (8th Cir. 1947).
and regardless of whether the juror affidavits are
admissible, Rhines has had roughly twenty years to develop
the evidence he now offers. In fact, Rhines faults each of
his attorneys for not developing this evidence sooner.
See, e.g., Docket 323 at 2 ("Beginning with
trial counsel, counsel at every stage of the prior
proceedings have failed to interview the jurors"). But
Rhines's allegations undermine the foundation of his
motion. For Rhines to prevail, he must show that this
evidence could not have been discovered earlier
despite having exercised reasonable diligence to
obtain it. Rhines, however, asserts that the evidence
should have been discovered earlier if his
attorneys were diligent. Rhines's contention is the
inverse of what Rule 60(b)(2) is designed to address. He
makes no showing that "he had been unable to uncover the
newly discovered evidence prior to the court's summary
judgment ruling." Miller, 439 F.3d at 414.
Likewise, the decades-long period of delay while the evidence
was obtainable indicates a lack of diligence. Holland v.
Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 653 (2004) (rejecting an argument
to present new ...